If you had to make a list of the UK’s Top Wellness Trends of the Past Decade, there’s a good chance that veganism and cannabidiol (CBD) would both be on it—in fact, they might both be vying for that number one spot.
According to The Vegan Society, the UK’s vegan population has quadrupled since 2014, with over 600,000 people now keeping a vegan diet. The number of CBD users is steadily rising as well. Statista estimates that 11 percent of the UK’s total population has tried CBD—which comes out to almost 7.5 million people, in case you’re not keen on maths.
There’s some obvious overlap between the trends of veganism and CBD. In both cases, people who get into them tend to value healthy living and social responsibility, whilst also having demanding taste when it comes to their foods and supplements. After all, if you’re going to prioritise putting healthy fuel in your body, you’ll probably need to do a fair amount of research.
This has led many people to wonder: are veganism and CBD a good match? The answer is ‘yes’—here’s why.
What Is Veganism (and Why Is CBD a Good Match For It)?
The concept of vegetarianism is a familiar one to most people. If you’re a vegetarian, you don’t eat meat. Veganism takes things a step further and excises any food derived from animals from one’s diet. That includes dairy products like butter or milk, along with eggs and other items.
In many cases, it’s easy to find a substitute, as people who’ve noticed the rise of various nut-based milks can attest. However, since many plant-based replacements lack certain essential amino acids, many vegans find it necessary to take other supplements to enhance their diets.
That’s where CBD comes in. If you’re unfamiliar with it, here’s a quick synopsis.
CBD is derived from the cannabis plant (which includes both marijuana and hemp, though all the CBD you’ll find over-the-counter comes from the latter). Despite the connotations this might hold, CBD is legal in the UK—provided that it contains less than 0.2 percent THC, the compound that gives cannabis its intoxicating properties.
CBD is generally recognised as safe by most scientists and medical experts, and people have started using it for a wide variety of reasons. One of those reasons is to enhance nutrition, which is a particularly relevant issue for vegans.
What does CBD have to offer a vegan diet? For one thing, CBD can provide a rich source of amino acids—hemp is one of the rare ‘complete’ plant proteins. It can also contain a range of B vitamins, which help boost energy, cognitive function, and even your metabolism. CBD has been praised for its antioxidant potential, as well—the US government even has a patent on CBD’s antioxidant uses. Plus, some CBD supplements can deliver much-needed doses of iron.
You don’t necessarily have to be a vegan to appreciate all the benefits of CBD, but it does help. CBD fills in many of the gaps that can pop up in a vegan diet. Best of all, it does so in an easy and convenient way—you don’t have to master complex recipes or purchases entire cupboards full of ingredients to make sure you’re staying on top of all your nutrition needs.
In fact, supplementing your veganism with a little CBD might be the easiest part of the whole endeavor.
How Can You Add CBD to a Vegan Diet?
There are lots of ways to use CBD, but some are better than others for blending in with your vegan diet. For example, you might find a CBD muscle rub does wonders for your back after a grueling workout, but if you’re trying to get your daily dose of amino acids and vitamins, you’ll probably want to look elsewhere.
Generally, ingestible CBD is the best way to use the compound for nutritional purposes. ‘That just means eating CBD edibles,’ you might be thinking, but your options are actually much more varied. ‘Ingestible’ just means ‘anything you can put in your mouth and swallow,’ which means that you’ve got a wide range of choices.
We’ll cover three of the most popular (and effective) in a second. But before we do, let’s cover how to know if your CBD product is vegan-friendly.
Here’s the good news: it’s really easy to discover if a given CBD product is suitable for vegans. In fact, most brands that produce vegan CBD supplements will advertise this loudly and proudly.
Conversely, if a CBD product doesn’t say ‘This Is Suitable for Vegans’ right on the label, chances are good that it isn’t.
With that in mind, let’s look at some of the best ways to add CBD to your diet if you’re a vegan:
CBD Oil Tinctures
When most people think of CBD oil, tinctures are what come to mind—small bottles of liquid that come with a dropper (or, increasingly, a spray applicator for easier dosing). CBD oils come in a wide range of flavours and potencies, so it’s easy to find one that fits your preferences.
There are a number of advantages to using CBD oil tinctures for supplementing a vegan diet. For one, it’s easy to precisely calculate your dosage. If one dropper contains 10 mg of CBD, and you take three droppers… well, you can do the maths.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of CBD oil tinctures, though, is the bioavailability (i.e. your body’s ability to absorb and process CBD). Studies have shown that sublingual CBD offers superior bioavailability compared with many other delivery mechanisms, so you’ll see more noticeable results with less time waiting.
CBD oil tinctures are also quite versatile. Typically, they’re applied sublingually by placing a bit of oil directly beneath your tongue (pro tip: hold the oil there for at least a minute or two to let it sink into your tissue). If you prefer a bit more flavour with your supplements, you can also add CBD oil to foods and beverages.
Here’s a quick guide for doing so:
How to Add CBD Oil to Vegan Foods and Drinks
Technically, you can add CBD oil to anything you eat or drink for a quick, easy infusion of extra nutrition. Squeezing a few droppers into your breakfast cereal or your morning coffee takes next-to-no effort or time, and assuming those things are vegan to start with, you’ve just whipped up a homemade CBD edible.
Congratulations—however, that might not actually be the most effective use of your CBD oil.
That’s because studies have shown CBD is absorbed more effectively when it’s accompanied by healthy fats. So if you’re looking to have a CBD-infused vegan breakfast, you might want to add your droppers of oil to a bowl of coconut yogurt instead of cornflakes. And whilst coffee does a good job of masking the taste of CBD, you might see better results by adding it to a smoothie instead.
You can also use CBD when preparing more complex dishes, such as baked vegan desserts or even pasta and ‘piles’ (if you’re a truly trendy foodie). One thing to keep in mind here, though, is that CBD is highly sensitive to heat, so you’ll want to stay away from recipes that require high temperatures.
Fortunately, there are a growing number of books, YouTube channels, and other resources on cooking with CBD, so you’ll never be short of inspiration. Just about any vegan dish you can imagine can be supplemented with CBD—and there’s always room to experiment.
Capsules are a staple in the supplements game—for decades, people have been taking capsules full of fish oil, magnesium, and a range of herbal concoctions so wide you’d need several encyclopedias to catalogue them all.
CBD capsules are the latest spin on this time-hallowed tradition. Like CBD tinctures, capsules are a relatively simple product: aside from the CBD oil itself, the only other essential ingredients are a carrier oil—which helps dissolve the CBD molecules so they can enter the bloodstream more easily—and the capsule itself.
The capsule, oddly enough, is the most important thing to consider when looking for a vegan-friendly CBD capsule. Many capsules are made using gelatin, a substance that is produced using animal products. However, some companies have started using plant-based capsules instead, which are a bit more costly to produce but also come without the ethical quandaries of gelatin capsules.
CBD capsules are popular for their ease of use. In fact, dosing with capsules might be even easier than dosing with tinctures. Since each capsule contains exactly the same amount of CBD—at least in theory, though it’s a good idea to check the third party lab test just to be sure—there’s zero guesswork involved.
Whilst CBD capsules are a bit less versatile than tinctures—you wouldn’t want to add a handful of them to your lunch salad—they’re easy to integrate into your daily routine, and they’re so discreet they can be taken anywhere.
Should I Try CBD If I’m Vegan?
Making the decision to go vegan can be tough—on one hand you’re making a strong statement in support of animal rights and environmental sustainability, on the other hand it can make going out for dinner a royal pain—but there’s much less sacrifice involved in adding CBD to your diet.
There’s also relatively little risk, though you should always talk to your doctor before taking a new supplement (whether that’s CBD or anything else). As mentioned before, most experts recognise CBD to be safe and well-tolerated by the vast majority of people, and studies have shown time and again that CBD is non-addictive.
In other words, if you give CBD a try and decide it’s not for you, ‘quitting’ is as easy as, well, not buying that product again. If you do take a liking to CBD, then you’ve found an easy and natural way to get the complete nutrition you need as a vegan. It’s a low risk, high reward proposition for most people.
The final call on whether to try CBD is yours alone, of course. But if you’re the kind of person who values the health of animals, the health of the planet, and the health of your own body, CBD sits squarely in the center of this Venn diagram.